Monday, September 01, 2008

Sundance Channel's 'Architecture School'

New Orleans is ground zero again thanks to Hurricane Gustav. The city is prominent in an MTV-style series called 'Architecture School' from the Sundance Channel. It chronicles the building of a house in New Orleans designed by students from Tulane University's architecture school. is making the first episode available online.

Everyone on the project has lots of enthusiam. There are extremely bright students, instructors, project managers and dedicated social workers from the non-profit housing group profiled and followed along as they work on the effort. However, not one individual offered any out-of-the-box thinking and/or skepticism by simply asking, "Hey, aren't we building in a flood plain? The city is sinking about 3 ft every 100 years. Is this even a good idea?"

Tough problems are best dealt with using both heart and mind. 'Architecture School' showed it had plenty of heart/passion and provides an excellent window into the art and science of architecture. But, to the discredit of the discipline, the program also shows that the Tulane project had little if any mind.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

They start building in the next episode, but a little investigation finds many pictures of the completed house. It's clearly built high up on piers.

Plus, there's a really interesting extra video on the Sundance site where two of the crew walk around the concrete slab left of a house and discuss the ill-advised building of slab-on-grade in a flood zone.

What's a city (and especially its poor residents) to do? Just pick up and abandon the place? Just build higher and with better materials.

September 3, 2008 at 11:20 PM  

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